Friday, 29 September 2017


1983, USA
dir. Lynn Littman
cast: Jane Alexander, William Devane, Rossie Harris

The Wetherlys are an average small town American family, struggling to survive in the aftermath of a nuclear war. Dad was in LA when the missiles hit and never made it home. Mum has to watch her kids sicken and die of radiation poisoning, while trying to keep things going.

Contemporary with films like Threads and The Day After, Testament features none of the scenes of mass destruction, mass panics or looting but is equally as harrowing, albeit in a much more quiet, restrained fashion. The family dies off one by one, and she has to bury her kids in the back garden, stitched up in bedsheets. At the same time, it does show the how people really come together in disasters- the town pulls together to try and survive, orphaned kids are cared for and people start looking out for each other. That said, the end scene where the mother considers ending it all it for her and surviving kid by gas themselves in the garage is one of the most wrenching in any post-apocalypse movie.
Not as iconic as Threads, but equally as harrowing.

Turkey Shoot

Turkey Shoot (aka Blood Camp Thatcher, Escape 2000)
1982, Australia
dir. Brian Trenchard-Smith
cast: Steve Railsback, Olivia Hussey, Roger Ward

In a future Australia on the verge of anarchy after a holocaust, political dissidents are sent to “re-education” camps. At Camp Thatcher, the most notorious of these, the governor and friends use the inmates in brutal hunts.

The plot's the standard Most Dangerous Game hunted-turning-the-tables-on-the-hunter schtick, but with some ridiculously over the top deaths- exploding arrows to heads, a hairy mutant who looks like a refugee from Carry On Screaming gets cut in half by a bulldozer, heads get shot clean off, hands severed and so on. If you believe the stories, live ammunition was apparently used in some scenes to save money and keep the actors on their toes and the hand severing scene came close to happening for real after one of the actors missed her cue. A classic piece of Ozploitation trash.


Virus (aka Fukkatsu No Hi)
1980, Japan
dir. Kinji Fukasaku
cast: Sonny Chiba, George Kennedy, Bo Svenson, Henry Silva, Chuck Connors, Masao Kusakari

A genetically engineered virus is accidentally released, killing off vast numbers of people. As governments bicker, hospitals are overwhelmed, martial law is declared and soon the only survivors are international outposts in Antarctica, who now have to cope with being the last people on Earth. This throws up other problems for them, such as there being 855 men and only 8 women. Worse than this, they realise that an earthquake could set off the USA's automatic retaliation system (which had been armed by a belligerent general in his death throws played with characteristic bad assness by Henry Silva), launching a nuclear strike at the USSR, whose own automated system would then fire off their missiles, including one aimed at the Antarctic, where they were convinced the USA had a secret base. A couple of scientists travel to Washington DC to try and disarm the system. They fail, and nuclear war ensues. The surviving scientist treks the length of South America to re-join the survivors of the Antarctic colony.

A lavish Japanese production, this was the biggest budget Japanese film of it's time, with a cast of Western actors used alongside the Japanese with an eye to breaking into Western markets. Unfortunately, the film never got a full release, eventually make it to TV in a heavily cut down form. Most Western versions are 108 minutes as opposed to 156 minute original. Most of what excised are scenes with the crew of the Japanese station (including a powerful scene where they make radio contact with an orphaned child in the USA) and the final trek to South America. The shorter version still makes sense though does feel hurried. It's a real shame as it's actually a good movie; the story's compelling, the cast give good performances (and it's a stable of great contemporary b-movie stars) and it actually has the budget to show the martial law, piles of burning bodies and so on most films only hint at. The film's now public domain and is a poundshop DVD staple, but it's worth tracking down the full version.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Hunting Grounds

Hunting Grounds
2008, Canada
dir. Eric Bilodeau
cast: Patrice Le Blanc, Patrick Baby, Marie-Eve Lemire

After an ecological collapse, people are confined to sealed cities to allow nature to heal. Fed up of virtual reality hunts, a group of hunters arrange an illegal expedition out of the city to hunt for real in the wilderness. Unfortunately for them, a military experiment into a regeneration serum has caused a zombie outbreak in the woods, but they may find a worse danger among their ranks.

While it had an interesting set up, it's actually pretty disappointing that once the characters leave the automated VR heavy city, they just run into zombies. It could have been much more interesting if they had been faced with natures revenge. Hell, even these days some backwoods cannibals would feel less hackneyed than zombies. The tone is a bit odd, too- initially it feels quite serious but when the zombies appear, there's a lot of blatant stabs at comedy, such as the zombie in the exo-skeleton who is unkillable as he's wearing a high-tech helmet so can't be shot in the head. It's nicely filmed and makes the best of the low budget, even if it 's a bit CGI heavy (though the green screen actually work well for the virtual reality scenes). Not bad but could have been better with a bit more imagination in the storyline.

Survival 1990

Survival 1990 (aka Survival Earth)
1985, Canada
dir. Peter McCubin
cast: Nancy Cser, Jeff Holec, Craig Willams

Nuclear accidents and economic collapse have caused the end of the world as we know it. A young couple cling on, living as hunter-gatherers in the wilderness, fending off attacks from marauders. They encounter a young survivalist, and after initial hostilities, they become friends.

A truly awful effort, it looks like it's been filmed on a camcorder down the local park. Very little happens, other than sitting round the camp fire, discussing how they survived the holocaust, though these poorly scripted and badly acted chats become weirdly compelling after a while. Maybe it's just in comparison to the shoddy action scenes. There are a number of head scratching plot elements such as the woman being a mutant (and characters being able to tell this) but looking completely normal (though she has no memory, apparently) and the man explaining how he never knew his geneticist father and then his clone brother turning up but being killed off before any resolution is provided. Not the best use of 90 minutes of your life.

The Survivalist

The Survivalist (aka Jack Tillman, Survivalist)
1987, USA
dir. Sig Shore
cast: Steve Railsback, Marjoe Gortner, Cliff De Young

A mysterious nuclear explosion in Siberia brings the superpowers to the verge of nuclear war. Panic sweeps America and law and order collapses. The Constitution is suspended, martial law is declared and the National Guard mobilised. Jack Tillman is a construction contractor, Vietnam vet and survivalist. After a run in with the National Guard at his local bank, the Guard, headed up by local no good biker and Tillman's long time rival Lt Youngman (Gortner with a grey mullet) decide he must be made an example of. I say run in, he actually smashes the front of the bank in with a JCB to get a safety deposit box where he's got gold to barter with or something. As Tillman travels across country to retrieve his son, he is pursued by the National Guard biker gang.
Perhaps surprisingly, there seems to be very few films aimed at the survivalist demographic. This is one of them, playing out like your average militia fantasy- society breaking down without a bomb being dropped, the usual evil biker gang actually being part of the government (you do wonder how they get by with long hair and fruity make up in the military, perhaps this was a comment on the degeneracy of the secular liberal state?) and the good, honest small business man becoming the oppressed. It paints possibly one of the most depressing pictures of humanity in any post-apocalypse film, everyone turns into a mindless looter (with even the local hospital being attacked by drug hungry junkies), his doctor friend is portrayed as crazy for wanting to return to town to help people and is murdered for his pick up truck and it's every man for himself in a way that makes Panic In The Year Zero look like a piece of bleeding heart liberal propaganda. That would be one thing if it was a half way entertaining film, but it's just a sub-par action movie with some ropey acting and undistinguished action sequences, there's not even much in the way of unintentional humour to commend it.
NB: this is nothing to do with the Survivalist books by Jerry Ahern,which was a popular post-apocalypse men's adventure series in the 1980s.


1987, France
dir. Pierre-William Glenn
cast: Karen Allen, Jurgen Prochnow, Johnny Hallyday

A genetically engineered child genius creates a race across a post-apocalyptic Europe involving computer controlled trucks. His driver is captured by a local militia and tortured to death, so a convict and a young slave girl manage to hijack the truck and continue the race, evading the militia and a psychopath driving another truck.

Bit of an oddity this one. On one hand, the involvement of kids, the lack of explicit violence and son on, gives it the tone of a kids film, but yet it has some dark undercurrents. Jurgen Prochnow steals the show with a triple shift as a clones of the same person- a doctor, a transgender scientist and the psycho with a lorryload of GM kids. Plenty of chase sequences should keep action fans happy, with seemingly the main reason for picking racing trucks is to show endless sequences of them smashing through rickety buildings. Most notable for the jive-talking onboard computer with a human mouth,which is way more disturbing than was probably intended.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Death Racers

Death Racers
2008, USA
dir. Roy Knyrim
cast: Violent J, Shaggy 2 Dope, Scott Levy

In 2033, following civil unrest, one million US citizens are imprisoned in a sealed off city that functions as a prison for the whole country, known as the Red Zone. When The Reaper, the ruler of the Red Zone, gets his hands on some sarin gas, the local governor arranges a Death Race, to use criminals to kill off the Reaper.

An Asylum mock-buster designed to cash in on the remake of Death Race, while also stealing liberally from Escape From New York, this is pretty hard going. Insane Clown Posse play themselves, and the horror of two grown men in clown make up, condemned to act like backward 14 year olds for the rest of their lives in order to scrape a living soon overshadows the film, especially as it's basically a bunch of people driving round an industrial estate, committing killings in shitty CGI. To make it even more unwatchable, the soundtrack is largely composed of ICP tracks.If I told you the best thing about this film is one of the teams is called Vaginamite, that'll give you an idea how woeful it is. One of the worst films I've ever seen, and there's been some stiff competition for that accolade, I can tell you.

Driving Force

Driving Force
1989, USA/Philippines
dir. Andrew Prowse
cast: Sam Jones, Don Swayze, Catherine Bach

Rival breaker companies clash over the salvage rights to the auto wrecks on the highways of a post-economic collapse future. A decent family man must fend off his dangerous rivals to keep in business, while trying to bring up his daughter.

Utterly tedious effort in which TV movie bullshit family drama wins out over armoured pick up truck mayhem. Not even Don Swayze as the cancer riddled nihilistic villain can save this, despite knocking a caravan with a kid in it over a cliff. Dead End Drive In used the same basic idea as a sub-plot to much better effect.

The Killing Edge

The Killing Edge
1984, UK
dir. Lindsay Shonteff
cast: Bill French, Paul Ashe, Matthew Waterhouse

A business man treks home after a nuclear war to find it was spared the effects of the attack but the area is now controlled by the Terminators, a group of rogue soldiers who have killed off most of the survivors and enslaved the rest. Finding his wife and child in a work camp, they are gunned down in front of him, setting him off on the vengeance trail.

A real bottom of the barrel effort here, with woeful acting, a barely there script, whatever locations they could scrape up (no ruins, just woods, fields, an Asda carpark and what looks like an 80s showhome) and poundshop effects. The hero is like Mad Max re-imagined by Alan Partridge, proving you can still be smart but casual after the apocalypse. The scenes where he talks to a teddy are presumably there to show how much he grieves for his son but just provide a rich seam of unintentional comedy, especially when he tucks it into his poncho when he runs into battle at the end of the film. And the ending- presumably, it was meant to be a Sam Peckinpah style bloodbath, but ends up looking rubbish. I could go on, but picking holes in this film is like shooting fish in a barrel of radioactive waste.  

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Panic In The Year Zero

Panic In Year Zero
1962, USA
dir. Ray Milland
Cast:Ray Milland, Frankie Avalon, Jean Hagen

The Baldwin family head off on a camping trip and from the hills, witness the destruction of Los Angeles by nuclear attack. As the roads get swamped by refugees, father Harry realises that it's everyone for themselves, so stocks up on food, robs a gun store and holes his family up in a cave. When his son is injured in a gun fight with some hooligans who raped their daughter, the family have to return to what's left of civilisation, finding the army restoring order.
One of the first films to consider the question of post-nuclear survival (even if issues like fallout are skirted round), Panic In Year Zero probably inspired a whole generation of survivalists to stock up their retreats. It'll teach you to only grab tinned and dried food, to cache food in case of robbery and to shoot any rapey looking greasers at the first opportunity you get, before they come back and take advantage of your womenfolk. The thread of decent folk having to do desperate things to survive is a thread that continued through films like No Blade Of Grass and Carriers. Although now dated, the film is still interesting as a document of the times. The film ends with them meeting some soldiers, with the presence of the army being a sign of hope, where as post Vietnam/Watergate, the presence of the army in most films would mean you'd at best be shot accidentally, if not robbed or worse (see most of Romero's Dead films). A remnant of a time about to lose its innocence.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Robot Monster

Robot Monster
1953, USA
dir. Phil Tucker
cast: George Nader, Gregory Moffett, Claudia Barrett

An alien invader uses cosmic rays to wipe out the population of the Earth, leaving a handful of survivors, a scientist's family who received an experimental antibiotic which has made them immune to the deathray. The robot monster most deal with them in person. However, his genocidal plans go awry when he takes a fancy to the eldest daughter.

Often regarded as one of the worst films every made,  this is blatantly not the case. While the acting is wooden, it's no worse than many of the films of the time. It's so low budget, they couldn't afford a robot costume, so they cast a friend who owned a gorilla costume and stuck a diving helmet on it and his equipment includes a bubble machine. The plot's nonsense obviously, but it's shoddiness is more endearing than anything else. There's  stock footage of dinosaurs fighting cut in for no apparent reason, which would lift any film. So, all in, unless you're the type of smug roaster who prefers The Shawshank Redemption to Penitentiary 3, you'll find something to enjoy in this film.

Dead End Drive In

Dead-End Drive In
1986, Australia
dir. Brian Trenchard-Smith
Cast: Ned Manning, Natalie McCurry, Peter Whitford
IMDB Trailer

Following an economic collapse and break down of law and order, the government turns drive in cinemas into concentration camps for undesirables. Crabs, a young man accidentally incarcerated with his girlfriend, is determined to escape but is shocked to find out the other inmates are quite happy with their lot.
It takes a setting similar to the first Mad Max film, with an ineffectual police force struggling to combat violent road gangs and turns it into a surprisingly deft political allegory. The population of the camp are kept happy with junk food, drugs and films, preferring the security of prison to the uncertainty of the outside world, reacting violently when a group of Asians are interned in the camp as a threat to their own security. Crabs' desire for genuine freedom is met with incomprehension.
The film also functions well as a piece of trash entertainment, with plenty of car chases, weird costumes and fights. Ozploitation fans will also be tickled to spot the director's similarly themed Turkey Shoot being shown at the drive in.

The Collapsed

The Collapsed
2011, Canada
dir. Justin McConnell
cast: John Fantasia, Steve Vieira, Anna Ross

A family flee the city in the wake of a violent breakdown of society, heading for their former home in a small rural community. Abandoning their car to avoid a confrontation with another group of survivors, they take to the woods but soon find that the other survivors are the least of their problems.

On paper, this doesn't sound particularly promising- the premise of a catastrophe that sends survivors homicidal has been done to death post 28 Days Later. However, rather than turning out to be another sub-par, low budget zombie movie, The Collapsed benefits from a real sense of unease and sense of hopelessness. The nature of the apocalypse is never made explicit, only that something terribly violent has happened, with the immediate issue of survival and finding safety taking precedence over mediation over the nature of the disaster . The acting is generally much better than you would expect, the script economical. Normally, the limited locations for low budget films works against them, but here, such an atmosphere of despair and panic is created, that it's not an issue. There's a real tension as the family are stalked through the woods, and when the nature of what they're facing is revealed it does come as a shock. An unexpected little gem of a film.

City Limits

City Limits
1984, USA
dir. Aaron Lipstadt
cast: John Stockwell, James Earl Jones, Dawn Rae Chong

15 years from now, a deadly plague has wiped out most adults, leaving children to grow up in the ruins on their own. A young man leaves his remote desert home to journey to the city to join the Clippers, a legendary gang of scavengers. He finds a city divided between the Clippers and their rivals the DAs, who maintain an uneasy truce. However, the DAs have done a deal with an evil corporation to take over the city. However, once they realise the corporation's plan is to enslave the gangs, they join together to smash their operation.

A fun little film, which makes interesting use of pop culture detritus, such as the gang taking moral lessons from comic books. It's got an interesting political sub-text, where the street gangs reject the disaster capitalism of the Sunny Corp, who having been contracted by the government to re-establish control over the city and proletarianise the gangs into wage slaves in their factories, using deadly force if required. They realise they have a common interest and join together to overthrow the corporation and carry on with their lives of libertarian communism, with the final voice over telling how the city would now be run for the benefit of those who lived there. Not the most common message in 80s action movies, it has to be said.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017


1979, USA
dir. Richard Compton
cast: Richard Harris, Ernest Borgnine, Woody Strode
IMDB Trailer

Years after the world has been reduced to a poisoned wasteland by war, the few remaining survivors live in fear of groups of bandits known as Ravagers. Living a furtive, nomadic existence, scavenging in the ruins, Falk (Harris) is set up on by a group of Ravagers and his wife killed. In reprisal, he slits the throat of one of his attackers and flees. Unfortunately, the dead man seems to be the partner of the leader of the pack, who doggedly pursues Falk as he seeks a place of safety, the mythical Genesis where things can grow again.
A little seen film that was to prefigure a lot of post-apocalypse actions movies to come, Ravagers is let down by a weak central plot and wishy-washy hero. Falk just seems to meander aimlessly across the wasteland, telling the people he meets about Genesis but has no real desire to go there or really do anything other than wander aimlessly. It's not even that this apathy is turned into a plot point, it's just kind of... there. The film is not a dead loss, there's some interesting supporting characters such as Borgnine as the benevolent dictator of a group of survivors hiding on a ship and Art Carney as an old soldier still doggedly guarding a rocket base decades after the holocaust. Visually, it's pretty good. Everyone looks grimy, wearing mismatched clothes that look like they been scavenged, and the stark landscapes, and sand choked streets really add to the bleak feel of the film. Not really up there as a lost 70s classic like The Ultimate Warrior.

Robot Jox

Robot Jox
dir. Stuart Gordon
cast: Gary Graham, Anne-Marie Johnson, Paul Koslo

In the aftermath of World War III, the remaining superpowers agree to outlaw war and settle disputes by means of one to one giant robot combat. The Market's (roughly the USA) top pilot, Achilles, retires after an accident in one of his battles results in the death of spectators. With the state of Alaska up for grabs, the brass try to replace him with a genetically engineered successor, but realising the inexperienced Gene-Jox doesn't stand a chance, Achilles signs on for one last fight.
Essentially translating all the cliches of the ageing boxer film into a post-apocalypse dystopia, all Robot Jox lacks on this front is a montage sequence, though admittedly boxers don't quit because his robot fell into a crowd of spectators, killing 300 people. If the drama is cliched, the meat here is the stop-motion robot combat, which is a real joy, and the only problem is that there isn't enough of it.
The screenplay is by legendary sci-fi writer Joe Haldeman, and was apparently butchered by Gordon into a more simplistic film, which leads you to wonder what the film would have been like if Haldeman had his way. Frustratingly, this has been his only foray into screen-writing bar an episode of the Twilight Zone and none of his novels have ever been filmed.

Far removed from the Lovecraftian schlock of his better known movies, you can spot Gordon regular Jeffrey Combs in a bit part as a prole betting on a fight.

Monday, 8 May 2017

The Trigger Effect

The Trigger Effect
1996, USA
dir. David Koepp
cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Elisabeth Shue, Dermot Mulroney
IMDB Trailer

A middle class, suburban couple struggle to cope with a mysterious power blackout. As this stretches on for days, civilisation begins to crumble, panic breaks out and looting begins. After a neighbour shoots dead a youth who had burgled their house, they decide to leave the city for family in the country, but after they are robbed of their car, they take desperate measures to try and survive.
Starting out  with a trip to the movies, which subtly underscores our dependence on technology, and building to the blackout itself (a great shot pans out from the bedroom where Shue's character reads her child a nursery rhyme about an ill wind, over the house to the cityscape which slowly darkens), the film stumbles a bit further in as too much time is given to a love triangle and the happy ending is a bit too pat. It's still an interesting look at how people cope when the lights go out, and there's an interesting class tension between MacLachlan and his more practical, working class friend Mulrony. The two men decide they need a gun and MacLachlan automatically assumes his friend is better at violence than he is. British science writer James Burke gets a co-writing credit, as the film was inspired by an episode of his Connections TV series.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Ever Since The World Ended

Ever Since The World Ended
2001, USA
dir. Calum Grant & Joshua Atesh Litle
cast: James Curry, Linda Noveroske, Dan Plumlee

Ten years after a plague has killed off most of the population of the world, a film maker sets out to make a documentary to record the how the 186 people left in San Franciso are leading their lives and their various reactions to the apocalypse. They take their first trip out the city since the virus hit.
A nice little mockumentary, Ever Since The World Ended really works, mainly as most of the people depicted are believable- no cannibals, death cults or warlords, just regular folk trying to get by in the now silent world. We see surfers who have turned to a hunter-gatherers life style, a New Age commune, engineers who can recycle old technology and scavengers who search out usable goods for trade. It also throws up some interesting questions with a arsonist who is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, and the community has to decide how they will deal with him. Can they rsk leaving him free or would they be justified in killing him? If not, if they imprison him, who takes responsibility for his care? It also takes in  those too young to have much of an attachment to the old world and how their attitudes differ. If you want something about more thoughtful about how people would likely react to the end of the world as we know it, this is well worth seeing.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Unknown Beyond (aka Maelstrom Il Figlio dell'attrove)

Unknown Beyond (aka Maelstrom Il Figlio dell'attrove)
2001, Italy
dir. Ivan Zuccon
cast: Michael Segal, Emanuele Cerman, Roberta Marrelli

The Old Ones have returned to Earth, shattering reality. A handful of survivors cling on underground. They discover that the dread book Necronomicon holds the key to banishing the Old Ones back to the void, and begin a harrowing trek to locate the book in the ruins of Arkham, while plagued by various avatars of the gods, undead witches and so on.

The Lovecraftian apocalypse has been rarely tackled in literature and even more rarely in film, with good reason as these horrors are best left to the imagination, though this makes a half decent stab at it. The film's got a nightmarish, disjointed quality that transcends its obvious budget restrictions, and as such it's almost reminiscent of Lucio Fulci films such as The Beyond. It evokes a sense of true hopelessness. A few cheap effects can add  atmosphere if done right, and the boiling red sky does give the feeling of a world gone terribly wrong. Having said that, despite the atmosphere, the film has some major flaws- the acting and script's not very good, the undead witch seems like she's just staggered on to set on the way home from a goth club and by the end it's really confusing who's who, who's possessed and who's changed sides. Not great, but some good ideas.


1983, Philippines
dir. Cirio H. Santiago
cast: Steve Sandor, Andrea Savio, William Ostrander

After nuclear war turns the Earth into a parched wasteland, water becomes the most vital commodity. A lone warrior named Stryker rescues a woman who knows the location of a hidden spring from the clutches of the local warlord and turns her over to the rebel group. They form an alliance to protect the spring from the warlord's army, but are soon betrayed and come under siege, leading to a bloody battle that Stryker turns the course of singled handedly.
This was Santiago's first post-apocalypse movie and he established a blueprint he would rarely deviate from with the seven or so films that would follow, all made for Roger Corman's New World Pictures and was working on Water Wars when he passed away in 2008. The films generally involve a taciturn, lone wolf hero, a wasteland setting (usually post war, though some  films would not bother establishing the nature of the apocalypse), a commodity in short supply (water, petrol, gunpowder), a Mad Max inspired look, a cast of hundreds, often including a large amount of vehicles (your money goes a long way in the Philippines and even stretches to tanks in some films), various ill defined factions (you may get some vague back story in some of the films), Amazon Warriors in hot pants and dwarves.
Even if the films are extremely derivative and repetitive, they're always enjoyable, Santiago was a competent director and understood what his audience wants- fights, car chases, and dwarves and never fails to deliver on these fronts. Stryker is one of his better films, if for no other reason that as it was the first, it feels the freshest. It's also got the most blatant steals from Mad Max 2 (a tanker hijack that's modelled on the climax, the female characters costumes are a direct steal of the Warrior Woman).
See also Wheels Of Fire, Equalizer 2000, Future Hunters, The Sisterhood, Raiders Of The Sun, Dune Warriors, Bloodfist 2050, Water Wars.

Dikiy Vostok

Dikiy Vostok (aka The Wild East)
1993, Kazakhstan
dir. Rashid Nugmanov
cast: Aleksandr Aksyonov, Farkhad Amankulov, Konstantin Fyodorov

A group of circus dwarves flee the collapse of civilisation and set up a village in a remote part of the former Soviet Union. Beset by bandits, they hire an oddball selection of gunfighters to protect them and see off the bandits.
The best post-apocalyptic take on The Seven Samurai. The heroes are suitably quirky- an pseudo cowboy who charges his fee in cigarettes, his gangster friend, their glamorous driver, an alcoholic, an ineffectual stuntman, a traditional Mongolian hunter and a traumatised war veteran who is not quite with them or against them, and they seem pretty ineffectual at first. The bleak but beautiful Kazakh wilderness, provides the perfect backdrop for the action. The expected spaghetti western cliches are body swerved- at the first confrontation with the bikers, the stand off is cut short by a hail of bullets. There's a surreal edge to the film (vegetables used to demonstrate tactics come alive, the retreat of the bikers at one point is speeded up Benny Hill style) which feeds into the vein of black humour  that runs through it but this doesn't overpower the feel of the film. An odd, obscure little film but well worth tracking down.

2020: Texas Gladiators

2020: Texas Gladiators (aka 2020 Freedom Fighters, Anno 2020: I Gladiatori del Futuro)
1984, Italy
dir. Joe D'mato
Cast: Al Cliver, Harrison Muller Jr, Donald O'Brien, Al Yamanouchi

A group of Texas Rangers (shirtless do-gooders who patrol the post-atomic wastelands dispensing justice) interrupt a mutant raid on a defenceless settlement. One of their number, the dastardly Catchdog, tries to take advantage of the situation by raping one of the survivors but is driven off in disgrace by their leader Nisus (Cliver).Fast forward a few years and Nisus has shacked up with the woman he saved in a peaceful community built round a refinery. Catchdog shows up with a biker gang in league with the high-tech troops of the fascistic New Order and overrun the settlement. Nisis is executed but his wife escapes and reunites his former comrades, who with the help of the local Native Americans liberate the enslaved colony.

Made hot on the heels of D'Amato's Endgame, this recycles much of the locations, props and cast (sadly no George Eastman, though he did co-write this). Due to the lack of memorable characters, it's not as fun as the earlier film, with only O'Brien's mad dictator and his over the top evil cackle standing out, with everyone else being pretty much interchangeable. By D'Amato's standards, it's a competent movie, though that's not saying much. 

2019: After The Fall of New York

2019: After The Fall Of New York
1983, Italy/France
dir. Sergio Martino
Cast: Michael Sopkiw, Anna Kanakis, George Eastman

"They baked The Big Apple!"
The human race has been rendered infertile following a nuclear war between The Pan American Confederation and The Eurax. A lone warrior is recruited to infiltrate the Eurax occupied ruins of New York to retrieve the last fertile woman on Earth, so she can be shipped off on a rocket to repopulate a new planet humans haven't made a mess of yet.
Probably the best of the cycle of Italian post-apocalypse movies that followed the success of Mad Max & Escape From New York in the early 1980s, 2019 benefits from a slightly higher budget that allowed a bit of model work, bigger cast and more locations. A gleeful rip-off of Mad Max, EFNY, The Warriors, Planet Of The Apes and even Star Wars, it has pretty much everything you'd want in a PA action flick- road warriors, rat eating savages, fascist villains, a tribe of dwarves living in the ruins of the UN building, George Eastman as a randy apeman inseminating the last fertile woman on the planet, a killer cyborg who looks like Father Ted, plus in Michael Sopkiw, a pound shop Kurt Russell. He was a professional sailor who turned to acting after being banned from boats because he was prosecuted for drug smuggling, and starred in a handful of Italian exploitation films. Through in a seasoning of gore (including a ludicrous multiple decapitation scene), and you've got a massively entertaining film.

The Beginning Of The End

A few years ago, I started writing a book on post apocalypse films. My idea was to watch every single film in the genre I could find, review them and collect these into a book called Final Films. Over the course of a couple of years, I watched and reviewed well over 200 films of an estimated 500 post apocalypse films. The project ground to a halt for a number of reasons. Firstly, I discovered that someone else had written basically the same book, so decided to hold off to see what that was like, and try and make mine different. This other book- World Gone Wild by David J. Moore turned out to be a great looking hardback, with tons of lovely video covers reproduced in full colour, and it remains the most comprehensive look at post apocalypse films ever written.
Apart from that, changes in my personal life meant that spending one day of my weekend watching 5 or 6 films a day, the next day writing about them, then going back to my full time job on a Monday didn't seem like such a good idea as it was when I started out.
Finally, in my somewhat quixotic quest, I was watching some really shitey films. Few of my all time favourite films would be generally recognised as cinematic classics, but in the name of research for this, I sat through some really fucking terrible films, from which no entertainment value could be extracted on any kind of level. Every time I'd discover a new, shot on DV, zero budget zombie film and realise I'd have to watch it, I'd die a bit more inside.
So ultimately, my work rate dwindled to zero. As the world heads for Armageddon (what will get us first, nukes or the climate?) I've decided to put out what I've done so far, and maybe do some more new material as well. Hope you find it of some interest.